Brandy: Afrodisiac

An airy R&B crooner who comes into her own when her multi-tracked voice battles itself along harmony lines, Brandy sounds a stirring call for enervation on Afrodisiac. Waving off her ex-husband, Brandy starts out thanking her cheating beau for "all the tears, all the stress" on "Who I Am," a snatch of finger-snap funk that signals her current liking for unbothered reconciliation and Coldplay-style brooding.

As much as it belongs to Brandy, Afrodisiac also belongs to producer Timbaland, who downshifts his future-shock drive in lush tracks that show his growing talent for rounded song-making. The title track dusts off the baby-cry sample Timbaland made famous with Aaliyah, but the hook is all Brandy—her dry voice circles around itself in a swooping chorus, which sounds open and sexy on her own terms. When not asserting her easy-flowing will, Brandy makes her Coldplay love literal in songs like "I Tried" and "Should I Go": The former finds her singing praise to Chris Martin's moody sulk, while the latter floats over a clunky sample of "Clocks" that goes nowhere.

Those two songs show Brandy in her best and worst form: Unmoored as a musical presence, she sounds most at home in pop-R&B clothes that would seem to make her one of many stars that twinkle more than shine. But she does shine in the woozy ambient swamp of "Focus" and the kinetic clap-slap of "Sadiddy," in which she snakes her neck like a weathered statue begging for a stare-down. Kanye West shows up on a pair of disappointing collaborations, but their mellow wanderings fit the mold of an album that flirts with the mundane just enough to tease out moments of brilliance.

Filed Under: Music

More Music Review